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Nugent Obama Rant; Oil Speculation and Prices at the Pump; Secret Service Prostitution Scandal; Bumping And Grinding Banned At Prom

Aired April 18, 2012 - 05:00   ET


ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you. And welcome to EARLY START. I'm Zoraida Sambolin.

Are you waving this morning?

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: I'm waving and drinking coffee.

Good morning, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan, in for Ashleigh Banfield today.

It is 5:00 a.m., if I need to remind you once again.


BOLDUAN: Let's get started, shall we?

A threat to President Obama or simply a loud mouth? "The National Journal" and others say the Secret Service intends to contact the rocker and proud NRA member Ted Nugent regarding comments he made about the president.

SAMBOLIN: The White House standing by the men who took a pledge to take a bullet for the president. This morning, new details in the Secret Service prostitution scandal, agents being offered a lie detector test now.

BOLDUAN: And she got a ride home from the bar and hasn't been heard from since. The family of a Ft. Bragg soldier saying she may be in danger this morning.


OLIVIA COX, KELLI BORDEAUX'S SISTER: She's loved by all of her friends and family, and we all just really want her to come home.


BOLDUAN: CNN spoke to her mother and her sister. We'll have the latest coming up.

SAMBOLIN: And it is here. Take a look. Some drivers already paying $6 a gallon for gas.

President Obama's feeling the pressure and promising a new crackdown on the oil markets to reel them in.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We can't afford a situation where some speculators can reap millions while millions of American families get the short end of the stick.


SAMBOLIN: But is it just the same type of political ploy that he mocked a few weeks ago?

BOLDUAN: Good question.

The war of words in the race for president -- race for the White House heating up, and it's only April. "The National Journal" and others report that the Secret Service is getting involved after some over-the-top comments made by Mitt Romney supporter Ted Nugent.


BOLDUAN: Sorry, Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: No, that's OK.

The rock star and NRA supporter tells CNN he is standing by his statements.

Alina Cho is going to break it all down for us.


SAMBOLIN: Oh, my gosh.

BOLDUAN: Good times. Inflammatory words.


BOLDUAN: Six and a half months away from the election, right? Good morning. Good morning, everybody.

The self-described Motor City madman is Ted Nugent. He's always outspoken, no stranger to controversy. But his most recent comments have people on both sides of the aisle saying this time, he's gone too far.

Now, Nugent spoke on Saturday at the National Rifle Association's annual convention in St. Louis. During a radio interview, he slammed Hillary Clinton, the attorney general, the vice president, Supreme Court justices.

But it is these comments about President Obama that's creating a firestorm. In this clip, he started with a rant about the four liberal justices on the Supreme Court, then directed his anger at the president.


TED NUGENT, MUSICIAN/ACTIVIST: And if you want more of those kinds of evil anti-American people in the Supreme Court, then don't get involved and let Obama take office again. Because I'll tell you this right now, if Barack Obama becomes the president in November again, I will either be dead or in jail by this time next year.


CHO: Now, as we mentioned earlier, "The National Journal" and other publications say the Secret Service is aware of his comments and are following up on it. But Nugent didn't stop there. Here's how he rallied people to support Mitt Romney in November.


NUGENT: And if you take that adamant "we the people" defiance -- remember we're Americans because we defied the king. We didn't negotiate and compromise with the king. We defied the emperors. We are Braveheart. We need to ride into the battlefield and chop their heads off in November.


BOLDUAN: I think those are inflammatory remarks by any measure.

SAMBOLIN: Oh my gosh! Incredible.

BOLDUAN: With that said, he is a Mitt Romney supporter. He's not a spokesman for Mitt Romney. What is Mitt Romney say about this?

CHO: No formal connection, obviously. But did support, did endorse Romney.

Having said that, obviously, the Romney camp is not happy about this. They're looking to distance themselves from the controversy saying, quote, "Divisive language is offensive no matter what side of the political aisle it comes from. Mitt Romney believes everyone needs to be civil."

And as you can imagine, Democrats were outraged. Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who chairs the Democratic National Committee, says, quote, "Mitt Romney must condemn Nugent's violent and hateful rhetoric immediately as it has no place in discourse in a political campaign."

Democrats have also released a web video. It's gone viral, calling Nugent called a surrogate for Romney even though, as I mentioned, there is no official connection to the campaign. He simply endorsed him.

SAMBOLIN: Is there any chance that he will apologize?


CHO: Zoraida, what do you think?

So far, I think all indications are no, right? In fact, Nugent just spoke to CNN contributor and Tea Party activist Dana Loesch on her show yesterday. Listen to what he said.


NUGENT: Wasserman Schultz is such a brain dead soulless, heartless idiot that I could not be more proud that this soulless, heartless idiot feebly attempts to find fault with Ted Nugent because I am on the right track, and she just encourages me to stand stronger.


CHO: He called the president and other members of the administration coyotes. He called them criminals. And this little gem here, quote, "I'm a black Jew at a Nazi clan rally, and there are some power abusing corrupt monsters in our federal government that despise me because I have the audacity to speak the truth." He stands by what he says and says it is 100 percent positive.

SAMBOLIN: It's mind boggling. It leaves you speechless.

BOLDUAN: I mean, this is the wonderful thing about a democracy, freedom of speech.

SAMBOLIN: Freedom of speech, right?

CHO: You have to know that he knows he was going to get this type of attention obviously. Obviously, he's no stranger to controversy. He's made these kinds of comments before.

BOLDUAN: He welcomes it. Clearly -- at least at the moment he's standing by it. I don't think anyone will say this helps the political discourse in an already hyper-partisan environment.

CHO: Let's make it more positive certainly.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Well, thank you for that, Alina. We appreciate it.

Six minutes past the hour. Just in, gas prices down half a cent in the past 24 hours. The national average is $3.90 a gallon for unleaded. But prices much higher in some parts of the country -- $6 gas spotted at a station in Furnace Creek, California, near Death Valley National Park.

The cost of gas has soared this year, up nearly 20 percent since the start of 2012.

BOLDUAN: We'll keep be following that.

Minding your business this morning, gas prices in an election cycle couldn't be more political.

President Obama made a huge push yesterday to limit speculation in the oil markets to help bring gas prices down. That's not something that can happen overnight clearly. He's been trying to make clear that over the past few weeks, that there really is no summer fall.



OBAMA: There is no such thing as a quick fix when it comes to high gas prices. There's no silver bullet.

What I have also said about gas prices is that there is no silver bullet.

There are no short term silver bullets when it comes to gas prices.

There are no silver bullets short term when it comes to gas prices.

There's no silver bullet for avoiding spikes in gas prices every year.

There are no quick fixes or silver bullets.



CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: I know. But it doesn't poll well to say, you're just going to have to take it.

BOLDUAN: Yes, I can't do anything about it.

ROMANS: I know. I know.

Look, this is what the president is trying to do. He's trying to find some things that are going to look good in an election year that may help on the margin. But it's very difficult to find the difference between speculation and manipulation. Those are different things.

The president said yesterday, he said he'd like to raise the criminal penalties for people who manipulate in the oil futures market, something that's difficult to prove, something that, by the way, the futures exchange say, hey, we already go after that. You also have the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the CFTC, to go after that as well.

And John Boehner and the Republicans are like, come on. This is a political ploy. You've got the tools, Mr. President. If you see manipulation in the markets, go after it.

I want to show you what another Republican Senator, Mitch McConnell, had to say about speculation in oil prices.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: I can only quote Warren Buffett. When asked about that a few years ago, he said, it's not about speculation. It's about supply and demand. So it looks to me like the president only quotes Warren Buffett selectively.


ROMANS: And, of course, he's talking about what Republicans say is another gimmick from the president in an election year, which is to tax people 30 percent who make $1 million or more in a year.

So, let's talk a little bit about why gas prices are up. You've heard me say this how many times --

SAMBOLIN: A million.

ROMANS: -- demand, demand, demand. The world is using more oil than ever before. We keep using more oil than ever before.

If you want gas prices to go down, you use less of it. And the world is not doing that, and it's the U.S. U.S. gas demand is down a bit. But the rest of the world is gobbling up crude oil for all kinds of different purposes to develop, just the way the U.S. did many 100 years ago, right?

So, this is story that isn't going away, but in an election near, people say, I want my gas prices to go down.

BOLDUAN: It needs to be the focus not only in an election year in order to try --

ROMANS: And that's a multiyear, comprehensive energy strategy, you know, that the whole country is behind.

China has a very, very significant comprehensive energy strategy. They're leading in solar. They're leading in renewable energies. They're leading in cleaning up their environment, because they're making their environment very dirty with all the gas and oil that they are burning.

The U.S. thinks on election year cycles, on 50-year cycles.

You mentioned, you did interview I think last week with

SAMBOLIN: I did. So, when we started with the $6 a gallon, I thought, well, wait a minute. They said it's going down. And you actually agreed.

ROMANS: I think we probably peaked in gas prices. You're going to see $6. You're going to see places around the country where it's going to spike. It's very different, depending in where you are because of refining capacity and all kinds of --

SAMBOLIN: And taxes.

ROMANS: And taxes, right.

BOLDUAN: Seasonably.

ROMANS: Right. I filled minivan this weekend, $57. I've never pay that much before. And I live in Jersey, one of the low tax states.

The hope is that you're going to -- we've peaked.


ROMANS: We've peaked, and that would be good for the president. But we'll see.

BOLDUAN: The politics of it, will continue hitting up.

ROMANS: Oh, yes.

BOLDUAN: It will continue rising.

Thanks, Christine.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

BOLDUAN: See you soon.

Billionaire investor Warren Buffett, we have learned, has been diagnosed with stage one prostate cancer. He will undergo daily radiation treatments for two months beginning in July. The 81-year- old Buffett says he feels great and his energy level is 100 percent.

The world's third richest person/man writing a letter to his Berkshire Hathaway shareholders, telling them his condition is, quote, "not remotely life-threatening or even debilitating in any meaningful way."

Buffett going on to say, quote, "I will let shareholders know immediately should my health situation change."

Of course, we wish him well, but when you're running a company that big, it's important to know about your health.

SAMBOLIN: And that's a big announcement.

BOLDUAN: Yes, that's a big announcement.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Eleven minutes past the hour here.

Police say a Ft. Bragg soldier who's been missing since Saturday may be in danger. Army Private First Class Kelli Bordeaux was last seen in a Fayetteville bar early Saturday morning. An Army official telling CNN a bar employee gave her a drive home. She never reported for work Monday, and her sister says she's not the type to go AWOL.


COX: She joined the military because she knew that was going to better her life. And so, she just did the best she could. She wanted to make her family proud. She knew joining the Army was going to do that. She's loved by all of her friends and family, and we all just really want her to come home.


SAMBOLIN: Bordeaux joined the Army one year ago and reported for duty at Ft. Bragg in November as a health service specialist.

BOLDUAN: The White House is coming to the defense of the Secret Service and its director despite this embarrassing prostitution scandal that continues to unfold. Eleven agents being investigated for allegedly bringing prostitutes to their hotel in Colombia two days before the president's arrival for a summit.

Heading up the investigation, the director himself, the director of the Secret Service, Mark Sullivan. The president's spokesman Jay Carney insisting the agency does not have a leadership issue.


JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president has confidence in the director of the Secret Service. Director Sullivan acted quickly in response to this incident and is overseeing an investigation as we speak into the matter.


BOLDUAN: As many as 10 members of the U.S. military are also being questioned about their possible involvement in the scandal.

SAMBOLIN: Twelve minutes past the hour.

Ahead on EARLY START: police slap the cuffs on a 6-year-old kindergarten student in Georgia. That's her right there. This morning, they are standing by that decision.

BOLDUAN: Plus, money -- it turns out -- might buy happiness after all. Just how much will it take, though? A new study is putting a number on it.

You are watching EARLY START.

SAMBOLIN: Is it a big, big number --


SAMBOLIN: Welcome back. It is 16 minutes past the hour. And it's time to check the stories making news this morning.

And we are so happy to have you back, Ms. Christine Romans.

ROMANS: It's nice to be back. Have a little birthday party yesterday for a little short person.

Nice to see you, guys.

Let's talk about -- let's talk about the big story in the news, right?

They figured out all kinds of schemes to stick taxpayers with the bill. The General Services Administration taking another beating from a House committee, all over that $800,000 shindig in Las Vegas. The inspector general giving us new details about those so-called jackass awards they made up to justify free meals.


BRIAN MILLER, GSA INSPECTOR GENERAL: It was a running joke in Region 9 that in order to get food, you had to give out awards. And many of these awards were silly awards. One of our witnesses characterized them as, I guess, fake awards and jackass awards, and things of that nature.


ROMANS: Coming up at 6:30 Eastern, we'll talk to Committee Chairman Jeff Denham who says the corruption, the fraud, the waste, it may go far beyond what we've heard so far.

Osama bin Laden's two daughters and three widows could be deported from Pakistan today. Earlier this month, a judge ordered the women returned to their countries of origin after serving a 45-day sentence for living in Pakistan illegally. That sentence expired last night.

Yemen has already agreed to take in one of the widows. The other two are from Saudi Arabia. It's not clear, though, if that country will agree to let them return.

Police in Houston say a newborn baby boy is safe and sound this morning just hours after his mother was gunned down. Twenty-eight- year-old Kate Golden (ph) was fatally shot as she was leaving her pediatrician's office. Police say she had an argument with a woman who then took off with a 3-day-old infant. They're questioning at least one person of interest and working to reunite the baby with his father.

Police in Milledgeville, Georgia, defending their decision to arrest and handcuff a 6-year-old kindergarten student who threw a tantrum at school. They say Salecia Johnson was cuffed for her own safety after she allegedly damaged school property and an officer was unable to calm her down.


CANDACE RUFF, 6-YEAR-OLD'S AUNT: She may have misbehaved, but I don't think she actually misbehaved to the point she should have been handcuffed and taken downtown to the police department.

DRAY SWICORD, MILLEDGEVILLE POLICE CHIEF: Our policy states that any detainee transported to our station in a patrol vehicle is to be handcuffed in the back. There's no age discrimination on that rule.


ROMANS: Police say the girl will not be charge because of her age.

Dramatic video of rescue crews are racing to save a whale tangled in a fishing net. The 40-foot gray whale is stuck near a nuclear power plant off the coast of California. Workers are now tracking it with buoys until they can cut away the line.

All right. It looks like money does buy happiness, and it doesn't have to be millions of dollars. A Marist College poll found an annual salary of $50,000 was enough to make people feel happy and satisfied with life.

So, how did they arrive at that number? Researchers asked people to rate the level of satisfaction in key areas of their life, including family, friends, and work. As you know, some of the research that I've gone through too shows that it's not how much money you make but how much debt you have.


ROMANS: If you make $30,000 and don't have debt, you are happier than if you make more than that and have a lot of debt. Debt is very important in this equation too.

SAMBOLIN: I still don't get the $50,000, though.

ROMANS: They asked people how happy they were. They found that people with $50,000 seemed to be -- that was the point where they seemed to be happy with all of these things in their life.

BOLDUAN: Shouldn't we be pushing the mantra that money doesn't buy happiness?

ROMANS: Happiness buys happiness.

BOLDUAN: There were go. Good point.

Thanks, Christine.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

SAMBOLIN: Nineteen minutes past the hour here. Actually, it's 20 minutes exactly past the hour.

It was NASCAR day at the White House -- President Obama welcoming Sprint Cup champ Tony Stewart, along with all the top 12 drivers of 2011. They brought a little hardware. Look at that. Two Chevy Impalas. President Obama hoping he would be able to take one of them for a bit of a spin.


OBAMA: It's good to see number 14 on the South Lawn. Every year I try to take a lap. Nobody lets me do it. But I am still holding out hope that at some point, I'm going to be able to get behind the wheel.


SAMBOLIN: Really? He can't take it for a ride?

BOLDUAN: I mean, that's a national security issue.


BOLDUAN: Talk about a lover of NASCAR, Rob Marciano is back in town with the latest on the weather.

SAMBOLIN: Are you really?

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Oh, come on, yes. Who isn't? Are you kidding?


SAMBOLIN: Forgive me.

BOLDUAN: Do not mess with NASCAR and Rob. Hi, Rob.

MARCIANO: I would not mind having the number 14 car in my backyard although that Chevy Impala looks nothing like the Chevy Impala I learned to drive on.

Good morning, ladies.

Hey, I want to talk about a couple of things that are good news. Eastern Texas, western Louisiana, your drought over. Look at the numbers as far as rainfall for March, Natchitoches, Louisiana, over a foot above normal, 17 inches for the month of March, 10 inches in Monroe, Shreveport seeing seven inches and Mt. Pleasant, Texas, also seeing a 6.57 inches.

The radar is going to -- will show that the eastern part of the U.S., a decent amount of rain this morning. We'll take it across parts of Georgia, sliding up parts of the Carolinas and into the Northeast as well. That will continue throughout the day. Also, a little pulse coming through parts of the Midwest.

Here's your rainfall across the Southeast, kind of riding the spine of the Appalachians and slightly cooler air behind this. But the good news is that a little bit of rain. And this will get it up towards the Northeast in New York City and Northeast.

You could use some rain as well. Everybody begging for it on the eastern half of the country and some will get it sooner than others.

Guys, back up to you.

SAMBOLIN: All right, Mr. Marciano, thank you.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, Rob.

MARCIANO: Thank you.

SAMBOLIN: Still ahead, Piers Morgan turns on the British charm for Betty White. The legendary funny lady celebrating yet another milestone. Love her.


SAMBOLIN: Welcome back. It is 25 minutes past the hour.

And it's time for an early read on your local news that's making national headlines this morning. We don't have the papers here. They're here somewhere. From Michigan, New York, and Arkansas.

We're going to start with the "Detroit Free Press." An update on a story we've been following on EARLY START. Two hundred thousand people have signed a petition urging the rehiring of a teacher who says she was fired over a Trayvon Martin demonstration.

Former middle school teacher Brooke Harris claims she was fired after she helped students organize a hoodie demonstration and fundraiser in support of Trayvon Martin and his family. They were going to send the money to their family. Students and parents signed the petition and voiced their support for Harris.

At a school board meeting, the school says Harris was not fired over Trayvon Martin but was let go over work rules. She wasn't supposed to do so without permission apparently. But they are reviewing it. Hopefully, we'll have some good news.

BOLDUAN: Reviewing it and not taking side. There's always --

SAMBOLIN: Two sides of this?

BOLDUAN: Yes, there are. Anyway, we'll follow that as well.

And "The New York Post" always good for a morning headline. The so-called king of all media gets knocked off his throne a bit by a New York City judge. Howard Stern's $300 million lawsuit against Sirius XM Radio thrown out of court yesterday.

It was a squabble over stock options. Stern said that he was owed a pretty serious payout for the new subscribers being brought, and they beat their goal in new subscribers. But the judge said Stern couldn't count those in Sirius acquiring XM.

A tweet from Howard Stern -- "The Howard Stern Show," rather, says "Howard is really bummed that a judge has dismissed his lawsuit against Sirius. He plans on appealing."

I'm sure we'll hear more about that.

SAMBOLIN: He's always fun to listen to.

In the "Denver Post" now. The Denver Rockies are making baseball history. This happened last night. Their pitcher Jamie Moyer is now the oldest pitcher to win a game. The Rockies beat the San Diego Padres 5-3.

Pitcher Jamie Moyer is so old. How old is he? He's 49 years old.


SAMBOLIN: His first Major League win came back in the summer of 1986. Ferris Bueller had just come to the theaters. Let's put it in perspective for you.

Moyer is just 80 days older than the last player to hold that record. That was Jack Quinn of the Brooklyn Dodgers, who set the record in 1932.

BOLDUAN: I do love that baseball is back in season. I love baseball.


BOLDUAN: So, who is he kidding? He can't keep up with her. Talking about Piers Morgan, of course.

Piers Morgan getting a little flirty with the legendary Betty White last night, who was inducted into the National Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame yesterday. Take a look.


PIERS MORGAN, HOST, CNN'S "PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT": My wife's last words to me tonight before I came down here were: watch yourself with Betty White. She said she is the ultimate cougar.

BETTY WHITE, ACTRESS: I am. I am. In my own head, not any place else, but in my head, I'm the ultimate cougar. Animal lover that I am.


BOLDUAN: Animal lover that I am. I love it.

SAMBOLIN: She's a very sweet lady.

Twenty-eight minutes past the hour here.

Ahead on EARLY START: the latest on the prostitution scandal at the Secret Service. Does the agency need leadership change? What they're saying at the White House about that.

And a Michigan woman charged with fraud for allegedly collecting food stamps after winning the lottery. You might remember the story. We've got an update.

You're watching EARLY START.


SAMBOLIN: Thirty-two minutes past the hour. Welcome back to EARLY START.

BOLDUAN: I am Kate Bolduan in for Ashleigh Banfield.

SAMBOLIN: And I'm Zoraida Sambolin. It is time to check the stories that are making news this morning.


BOLDUAN (voice-over): Rocker, Ted Nugent, ranting about President Obama during an NRA convention. The national journals and others saying that the Secret Service is now looking into it. Nugent saying, if Barack Obama becomes the president in November again, he will either be dead or in jail by this time next year.

SAMBOLIN (voice-over): And the Secret Service battling problems of its own. The prostitution scandal in Colombia. The White House says President Obama has confidence in the Secret Service chief. And now, the exact number of women involved is unclear. Barbara Starr with new details in just a few moments.

BOLDUAN: And Mitt Romney going all Hillary Clinton on us. Explain, blaming a vast left-wing conspiracy in the media for trying to derail his campaign. A new poll shows people may be warming up to Mr. Romney now that he is, quote, unquote, "Mr. Inevitable." More on that coming up.

SAMBOLIN: All right. And the summer Olympics in London now just 100 days away. Finishing touches being put on a giant set of rings. You're looking at them there. And doubts being put to rest that London is ready. Some big preopening ceremonies planned for today. We are going to take you there live.


BOLDUAN (voice-over): The White House and the Republican chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee are coming to the defense of the Secret Service and its director despite this embarrassing prostitution scandal that continues to develop. Eleven agents have been stripped of their security clearances and are under investigation for allegedly bringing prostitutes to their Cartagena, Colombia hotel rooms just two days before the president's arrival.

There've been calls for the resignation of secrest service director, Mark Sullivan, but the White House is backing him and so is Republican congressman, Peter King, who chairs the committee which overseas the agency. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PETER KING, (R) HOMELAND SECURITY COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: I don't hold Mark Sullivan responsible at all. I think he has acted very effectively. He's begun an immediate investigation. I can tell you, the investigation is very intense. I can also tell you from having spoken to Director Sullivan, let's leave it at this.

He is incredibly angry, furious, and he's going to do all that he possibly can to make sure this never happens again.


BOLDUAN: Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr, is live in Washington this morning. Barbara, what is the latest on this investigation?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, here at the Pentagon, they're also conducting their own investigation through the U.S. southern command, of course, into the military involvement in all of this. It appears now that members of the military from all the branches were involved in these allegations, and they still are allegation, of the use of alcohol and possible soliciting prostitutes.

The numbers are in flux a little bit, Kate, because people may be getting cleared of the allegations. Other people may be undergoing questioning, but we are told by officials, at least, two marines involved as well as members of the air force, the army, the navy, possible people who are involved in bomb disposal activity.

All of these people were people. All of these military personnel were there as part of the support to the president and support to the Secret Service during his visit to Colombia. So, they might have had a peripheral role, but equal embarrassment here at the Pentagon.

BOLDUAN: Talk about they might have had a peripheral role, then kind of taking a step back to remind our viewers, how specifically and what they're involved and how specifically is that a security breach?

STARR: Well, this is a question, you know? Of course, and people may be in disagreement about all of this, but anybody involved in a presidential visit on that level would have some knowledge of the president's schedule, his day-by-day, his minute-by-minute movements, and that puts him at risk.

If they were involved with prostitutes, they could be at the risk of blackmail or threats or victims of violence. This is the kind of thing that concerns the Secret Service, that concerns the Pentagon. Members of both units, the Secret Service and the military, are always warned about not getting involved with prostitutes because of this very risk.

So, they may not have had direct access to the president, himself, but they would have had information that could have made it a security problem, and that's why they're so much concern. BOLDUAN: More and more question, but at least, we're starting to get a clear picture a little bit of how things were looking there, but still, a lot to develop on this story. Thank you so much, Barbara. We'll talk to you soon.

STARR: Sure.

SAMBOLIN: Thirty-six minutes past the hour here. Now on to campaign politics, he is a Republican nominee in waiting, and with the divisive primaries now behind him, it appears Americans are seeing Mitt Romney in a more favorable light. But does he jeopardize that goodwill with comments like this? Rebooting an old Hillary Clinton line to attack his critics.


VOICE OF MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There will be an effort by the quote vast left-wing conspiracy to work together to put out their message and to attack me. They're going to do everything they can to divert from the issue people care most about, which is a growing economy that creates more jobs and rising incomes. That's what people care about.


SAMBOLIN: So, meantime, there is good news for Romney in the latest polling. A CNN/ORC poll shows his favorable rating at 44 percent now, seven points higher than last month, and a ten-point jump from February. CNN political editor, Paul Steinhauser, joins us live from Washington.

And Paul, I got to tell you, I never thought I would be doing this, but I come in the morning and I pore over these crazy polls. And yesterday, we were talking about all the bad news for Romney. You have some good news coupled with some bad news. So, let's do the good first.

PAUL STEINHAUSER, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: Yes. You just showed the headline right there. Listen, the primaries are over. The attacks from Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, that's all done with now. Romney pretty much the general consensus nominee, and that's why his favorable rating is starting to rise.

But, look, Zoraida, he still has a way to go when it comes to President Obama. Take a look at his favorable rating. You just mentioned, compared to President Barack Obama, as you can see, is about 12 points down. The president had a 56 percent favorable rating. Mitt Romney, as you just mentioned, 44.

They're unfavorable is pretty much the same. But this rise for Romney (ph) is coming at a good time. Take a look at our next number. We asked, is it worth a second look for Mitt Romney?


STEINHAUSER: Did you know more about it. Then, yes, the answer there is yes. A majority say yes, time for a second look. We're about four in 10 say, you know what, I really know enough about Mitt Romney. Forty-five percent say no. So, yes, this is all happening at a pretty good time for Mitt Romney now that we're getting past the primaries and into that general election battle.

SAMBOLIN: That's actually the one I was referring to. I think that 52 percent is pretty high and really good news for him.

STEINHAUSER: It is. It certainly is. A good time.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Even though President Obama has a stronger favorability rating than Mitt Romney has, he still has reason to be a little nervous, we understand. It has to do with his approval rating. Can you share some of that with us?

STEINHAUSER: Exactly. The approval rating, of course, is different than the favor rating (ph). The approval rating is how is he doing? How is his job as president? Take a look at the number right now. It is at 49 percent approval, 48 disapprove in our brand new CNN/ORC poll that went up -- we conducted over the weekend. How does that compare to previous presidents who won re-election?

Well, take a look at that. It's a little bit lower and it's under 50 percent compared to them at this time in April, their reelection year. You can see former President Bush, former President Clinton and Reagan, all in the low to mid-50s. So, President Obama kind of right on that line there where former presidents would have cut into the favorable rating in the years that they were re-elected -- Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: Not a really big difference here, though, Paul. We're going to take a look more at these polls a little later in our six o'clock hour. Thanks for that.


BOLDUAN: A 25-year-old Michigan woman is facing two felony fraud charges for continuing to collect food stamps after winning the lottery. We probably remember this story. There was quite a bit of outrage when this came to light. Amanda Clayton (ph) spent Monday night and was arraigned yesterday.

Prosecutors say she failed to inform state welfare officials about her million dollar jackpot win or close to and cashed more than -- cash in on more than $5,000 in food stamps after collecting a lump sum lottery payment of $735,000. Here's Amanda's mom defending her daughter.


EULINE CLAYTON, AMANDA'S MOTHER: When I spoke with her, she said she called the welfare office, and they don't return your phone calls. So, what are you supposed to do?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, she tried to report --

CLAYTON: She tried to report it.


BOLDUAN: Amanda Clayton has pleaded not guilty. Her lawyer plans to ask for all charges to be dropped at a hearing next week. Check the phone record, folks.


BOLDUAN: Check the phone records.

SAMBOLIN: That's an interesting one.

All right. High school in Wausau, Wisconsin is banning bumping and grinding at the prom. In fact, they're making kids sign a no dirty dancing pledge if they want to attend. The dance code of conduct says each student cannot have any body against body dancing. There's no groping allowed either, and no provocative dancing, including grinding. That's a lot of rules.


LORI WILLIAMS, WAUSAU EAST PROM ADVISOR: We had a lot of girls complain, and we've had a lot of parents complain that that makes them feel uncomfortable. This is a safety measure for students as well that feel that they can't stand up and say, you know, I don't like this.


SAMBOLIN: So, students are caught not keeping it PG, they can be kicked out of the dance, and the penalty could get more severe depending on how close they actually get. Imagine the chaperones at that one, right?

BOLDUAN: It would be like (ph) a foot apart.


SAMBOLIN: For us, right? I never danced close to a guy.

BOLDUAN: Oh, really? You're going to say that with a straight face. I'm just curious.


SAMBOLIN: I went to an all girls catholic high school.

BOLDUAN: I was a wall flower. I'm sure all of you probably believe that.


BOLDUAN: Only 100 days until the Olympics, and the celebrations have already begun. Coming up, a live report on all the preparations, all the festivities happening in London as we wait for the games to begin. You are watching EARLY START.


BOLDUAN: Good morning, Atlanta.

SAMBOLIN: We needed the music.

BOLDUAN: We needed the music. I just jumped too early. Looks a little rainy there right now. We're looking Atlanta, of course, because this is the host of the 1996 Olympic summer games. Later on today, we're going to get some more rain, high of 62. Good morning, everyone. Wake up, wake up, wake up.

SAMBOLIN: Yes. The final countdown until the start of the summer Olympics in London, we're just 100 days out now.

BOLDUAN: And while the games haven't begun just yet, the party is already getting started. The first celebrations are kicking off this morning in London. Jim Boulden is live in Trafalgar Square with the details. Good morning, sir.

JIM BOULDEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. Yes. Here, a few hours from now, some of the leading lights of the west end theater, the stage, will be here to celebrate. Also, out at two gardens near Heathrow Airport, they just unveiled flowers in the shape of the Olympic rings. So, if you're flying over Heathrow, you'll be able to see those rings.

It's all about, of course, getting ready with a 100 days, and if you can see behind me, about 10 hours and 50 minutes until the opening ceremonies. But you may also be able to tell I'm wearing gloves. It's freezing. It's raining. Let's hope in 100 days, that's not the kind of weather that people will see when they come to London.

SAMBOLIN: Let's hope not. London is known for its famous underground, but so many people are expected for the games. Are they concerned, at all, about transportation getting there?

BOULDEN: Yes. You know, the thing is they're ready. Not much of the infrastructure is ready, but you can't do much about the Victorian era underground. They have modernized it, but boy, they're telling us, the people live here, that you may take a lot longer to get to work. I saw signs this morning that said, you may need to walk to work.

They're talking about people staying later. One piece of advice from the underground system is stay at work, go to the pub, have a few drinks --

SAMBOLIN: I love that.

BOULDEN: Then try to go home after all the tourists have gone back to the hotels.

SAMBOLIN: Well, that is, I think, very interesting advice.

BOLDUAN: That's a great advice on my mind.


SAMBOLIN: All right. Thank you very much. We appreciate that update.

It is 47 minutes past the hour. Time to check the stories that are making news this morning. Here is Christine Romans. Good morning.


The White House this morning defending the Secret Service and its director, Mark Sullivan despite an embarrassing prostitution scandal.


ROMANS (voice-over): The administration says it still has faith in the agency even though 11 agents are under investigation for allegedly bringing prostitutes to their hotel in Colombia last week right before the president's arrival in the country.

Warren Buffett is battling stage I prostate cancer. The billionaire investor confirming this diagnosis in a letter to his Berkshire Hathaway shareholders. Buffett says he feels great. He insists this disease is not life-threatening and will not limit his day to day activities. He'll be undergoing daily radiation treatments for two months beginning in July.

Ted Nugent says he'll be, quote, "dead or in jail" if President Obama wins again. That got the Secret Service's attention, according to several news outlets, including the "National Journal." The rocker going on a rant at an NRA event also saying, this administration is vile and evil.

Brutal takedown of a car robbery suspect via police dog. A Kentucky man allegedly carjacked a woman at a grocery store. He led police on a high-speed chase across several counties. When police -- sorry, I don't mean to laugh -- finally caught him, the dog pounced and would not let go.

Cops had to cut through the suspect's shorts just to get the dog to release him. The suspect was treated for bite injuries at a hospital.

New details about an Air Canada flight that left 14 passengers and two flight attendants hurt when the plane took a violent nose dive. A new report released earlier this week describes what happened back in January last year. Apparently, the co-pilot was disoriented after waking up from a nap during the flight.

He saw the bright glow of the planet, Venus, and mistook it for an oncoming plane. He panicked and took the plane down hard.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was literally violently thrown out of my seat and slammed into the ceiling. I was in a window seat. And so, I hit the top of the ceiling and fell back to the ground. After that, it was just kind of chaos.

ROMANS: The flight captain quickly brought the plane back on course, and it landed safely -- Ladies.


SAMBOLIN: I cannot imagine that moment in time, right?

BOLDUAN: There are so many scary airplane stories these days.

ROMANS (on-camera): I know. I know. This point of business is, I don't know how long that flight was, but the nap part.

BOLDUAN: Oh, my gosh! Thank you, Christine.

ROMANS: Venus, of course.

SAMBOLIN: Still ahead, the Batmobile is a big wheel. Police let a sick little boy become Batman for a day, and look at that. They went all out. This is a touching story that you really don't want to miss. You are watching EARLY START.


SAMBOLIN: Fifty-two minutes past the hour. Time to take a look at what is trending on the web, and it is bat boy to the rescue.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Batman, you just try to stop me.


SAMBOLIN: Wow! Look at that. The Arlington, Texas Police Department made a little boy with leukemia's dream come true. They let him be Batman for a day. The department set up fake crimes all across the city for Little Batman to solve, including a bank robbery with the joker, and a phony bomb scare also with the riddler (ph).

The mayor even gave the seven-year-old boy name Kai (ph) a key to the city for saving the day.

BOLDUAN: Adorable.

SAMBOLIN: That's fantastic.

BOLDUAN: That's fantastic. You really can't top that story.

But another story that we're following that is trending, we just saw Tupac in a hologram perform at Coachella. So, we've also -- have we also heard maybe not for the last from Kurt Cobain (ph)? I guess, we're going to have to see.

A friend of the late Nirvana front man tells UTV that Cobain was working on a new solo track that transcended anything he'd written, so far, adding, quote, "It would have been his white album," referring to the Beatles album double album that inspired all kinds of new sounds over 40 years ago. The big question, do these demos still exist? Will we ever hear them?

SAMBOLIN: That Tupac thing is really amazing

BOLDUAN: But is grunge coming back? Oh, no. Oh, no.


SAMBOLIN: So, EARLY START nerd alert now, and it's enough to make a Trekkie's (ph) little brainiac head simply explode. A Star Trek convention in the UK is set to unite all five captains on the same stage for the first time.

Take a look there, including William Shatner, of course, Captain Kirk, Patrick Stewart, Captain Picard, Avery Brooks, Commander Sisko, Kate Mulgrew, Captain Janeway, and Scott Bakula who played Captain Archer.


SAMBOLIN: I know my captains here. Organizers say they will all attend destination Star Trek London. It is scheduled for October, and they're expecting thousands of Trekkies from all around the world. Can you imagine that as you're walking through the streets?

BOLDUAN: Can you imagine that?

SAMBOLIN: Exactly.

BOLDUAN: Trekkies unite. And, just in time for their world tour, which starts tonight, five guitars stolen from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers have been recovered. The guitars were taken last week from an L.A. recording studio when the band was rehearsing. Petty had offered a $7,500 reward for their return, no questions asked. Police say the group is thrilled to get the guitars back.


LT. RON LIZUKA, CULVER CITY POLICE: You know, all of these have a very special value to Mr. Petty, because if you take a look at these guitars, each and every one of them has been responsible for creating one of his greatest hits in the last 30 years.


BOLDUAN: Fifty-one-year-old -- there's his picture right there. Darrell Washington (ph), a private security guard, has been arrested for grand theft. Police were able to identify him after he sold one of the guitars at a Hollywood pawn shop.

SAMBOLIN: Stupid criminal files.

(CROSSTALK) SAMBOLIN: Jackass awards, interns, getaways, Vegas bashes, lawmakers now looking at the leaders of a government agency who let them run wild. The GSA we're talking about here.

BOLDUAN: That's right.

And still ahead, rocker and big time NRA supporter, Ted Nugent, going off on President Obama. Why the rant could get him in some serious trouble? You're watching EARLY START.